Sunshine. It is essential to life. It warms and nurtures! It brightens our days. At least it does when it is not placed ahead of the word "list."
The Harris Tories, by passing the Public Sector Salary Disclosure Act, created "the sunshine list" for one reason — to drive a wedge between the public and private sector. It was designed to ramp up anger and jealousy while driving down expectations. That law required organizations that receive public funding from the Province of Ontario to disclose annually the names, positions, salaries and total taxable benefits of employees paid $100,000 or more a year. It put a target on the public sector, its own employees.
You have to hand it to them. They realized that as union density plummeted in the private sector and the "race to the bottom" was officially on.
They understood that when faced with a vicious global attack on income security, the private sector would struggle. They had limited and diminishing voice to advocate for the collective. On the other hand, public sector workers turned to their unions to stop wage concessions and protect job security.
The right knew that by causing private sector income stagnation, tax revenue to government would fall dramatically. The resulting government deficits were not a "mistake." They were purposely created by the right wing. By "starving the beast" a term coined by Ronald Reagan, the right could continue its attack on all workers; their wages and pensions.
Unfortunately, when the watering hole gets smaller, natural instincts for survival can lead people to turn on each other. Some call it Reaganomics. I call it "wreckonomics". The definition is simple: purposely stress the economy to drive down expectations. You know, "do more with less". Cause shock, and scare people into submission. Have them turn on each other by thinking: "If my cow dies yours should die too."
Conservatives are the architects of this plan. Privatization and the wage decreases that accompany it; tax cuts; outsourcing and union busting are all designed to give the business class the upper hand. How dare the middle class to think we are entitled to a living wage.
So let's have a look at the Public Sector Salary Disclosure Act's sunshine list. Sure, there are a few OPSEU members on that list. No apologies. They deserve the wages they earn.
But look at that list again. The vast majority of those listed are bosses, political appointees and public sector CEOs making far more than they are worth. Their salaries would be better spent on front line services that matter to the people of Ontario.
Tim Hudak and his cronies don't understand. Beyond their limited capacity, it's just not in their political interest to understand. They resent the fact that some in the public sector have a better deal than some in the private sector. They hate the "union advantage".
But let's be clear. The policies promoted by the likes of Hudak purposely directs money and profits to just those at the top of the food chain. These are usually large corporations, making billions of dollars. They are large donators to the party. They also provide a feathered nest for unemployed former politicians who have done their bidding.
We know that these corporations could provide their workers with a proper wage and some employment security. We also know that they don't. They won't. Just look at our banks. They make billions in profits yet their front line workers earn a pittance. We also now see banks and other corporations outsourcing work and transferring work from qualified Canadians to temporary foreign workers at a 15% wage discount. Shame!
In Hudak's world working people should never ask for fairness. Do that and face privatization, outsourcing or layoff. That's why Hudak hates unions. Unions are the last barrier to unfettered control of society by the bad and greedy bosses that support these Conservative party policies.
Hudak is so far removed from fact and reality that he actually makes the perfect poster boy for an out-of-touch PC Party. His insincerity and lack of credibility "shines" through with every word he speaks.
But I also say to workers: "Sunshine" is a necessity. If you're looking for a ray of light and a glimmer of hope, don't criticize unions, join one."
Turn work into a job and a job into a career with a fair and liveable wage. That's the one part of the economy that could really use a little global warming.
Eduardo (Eddy) Almeida
First Vice-President/Treasurer, OPSEU